Last June, Russian President Vladimir Putin chose Beijing as the first destination of his visit abroad after he was reelected Russian president. He made the choice to show the importance he attached to relations with China.
Before his visit, he published an article in Chinese official mouthpiece People’s Daily that no international issue could be discussed or enacted without Chinese and Russian involvement. It give me the impression that the close tie between China and Russia might grow into an alliance against the US.
That was why I wrote a post titled “The beginning of a new Cold War: On Putin’s Beijing visit”.
At that time, Beijing was worried that the US switching of pivot to Asia aims at containing China and that the US would support Japan, the Philippines and other countries in their maritime territorial disputes with China.
Russia’s worries were that the US hostility towards Syria and Iran might weaken Russian influence in those areas and, in addition, US plans to deploy an anti-missile system in Poland that threatened Russian security.
However, in spite of the promise to intensify bilateral relations and the plan of the Shanghai Cooperative Organisation to expand the bloc from focusing on security co-operation to forming an economic and geopolitical alliance, not much progress has been made in strengthening the alliance in the year since then.
However, the situation is quite different now. There is the possibility of real military confrontation between China and Japan, and US involvement in the confrontation. China is now in dire need of Russian advanced weapons and technology.
Russia is still bothered by the situations in Syria and Iran as its influence there is quite important.
In addition, both China and Russia are unhappy at Western criticism of the human rights situation in them; therefore, to please Russia and also for China’s own sake, Xi said in his speech at a Russian international relations school, “We must respect the right of each country in the world to independently choose its path of development and oppose interference in the internal affairs of other countries.”
The US is certainly afraid that the close partnership between China and Russia may grow into an alliance against the West and initiate a new Cold War against the US.
There was recent news that the US decided to suspend its plan to deploy its anti-ballistic missiles in Europe, which Russia has opposed strongly for a long time. That is certainly an effort to win over Russia.
China does not share Russia’s worry in that respect, but its recent successful test in intercepting an ICBM certainly impressed Russia.
China and Russia both have maritime territorial disputes with Japan. Xi wanted to draw Russia to China’s side, so he said in the above-mentioned speech that China and Russia should jointly maintain the achievements of the victory of World War II, and the international order after the War.
Xi meant that as Russia got the four islands in dispute with Japan due to World War II, China supported Russia in the dispute. On the other hand, as Japan returned Taiwan to China due to its defeat in World War II, it shall give back to China the Diaoyus (called Senkakus by Japan) as the Diaoyus are a part of Taiwan while Taiwan is a part of China.
Xi certainly wants closer military cooperation between the two countries and if possible, Russian support in China’s dispute with Japan.
So far Russia has not responded to Xi’s words, but it allowed Xi to be the first foreign leader to visit the Armed Force Action Administration Centre of Russian Defence Ministry. Xi said that the visit to such an important place of Russian military indicated the intensification of military, political and strategic cooperation between Chinese and Russian armed forces.
However, the visit may be symbolic. What people are interested is whether there will be any breakthrough in Sino-Russian cooperation in weapon development.
For example, both China and Russia want to build nuclear aircraft carrier. Russia is strong in developing the nuclear reactor, while China has succeeded in developing an electromagnetic catapult. Should they not each provide the other what the other needs?
In fact refusing to provide does not work. Russia refused to provide arresting cables to China’s first aircraft carrier, but China succeeded in making them on its own. Supplying what the other lacks is a way to recover research costs and make a substantial profit. Both China and Russia must be clear that the other will after all get what it wants through the efforts of its own researchers and engineers.
It is the same with the US. The US does not allow China to joint the international space station, but China has now developed its own. What if China stores star war weapons in the bigger space station it plans to build? The US has just lost control.
Close cooperation between China and Russia in weapon development will have the consequence of adding wings to tigers for both countries. That will be what the US fears most. However, that does not seem likely to happen in the near future, as it takes time to establish mutual trust and maybe there will never be the mutual trust required.
However, we cannot deny the possibility of such cooperation and even the emergence of a real alliance between China and Russia.
Moreover, if there is such a sound alliance, a war between China and Japan will be much more likely. Due to Japan’s cruel occupation of China for 8 years in the past, there is inveterate hatred against Japan among quite many Chinese people though in history China is not a nation fond of retaliation. However, if Japan persists in denying its error and justifying the war, it is quite hard to avoid a war when Japan tries to amend its constitution for military buildup.
The close alliance between China and Russia may enable China to win the war and prevent US involvement as being so remote from Asia, the US is entirely unable to fight both Russia and China in an all-round war in Asia.
For Xi Jinping, the victory of a limited war with Japan will enable him to consolidate his power and in addition provide Chinese troops the opportunities to test their new weapons and obtain actual war experience.
There is the economic side of alliance that will be mutually beneficial and much more possible.
As the EU has attracted all the satellite and constituent states of the Soviet Union in Europe, there are little prospects for Russian economic development in Europe. However, Asia may become the future world economic centre, while Russia has a large area of land in Asia. With China’s help, Russia may have a prosperous economy in Asia.
The problem is that Russian people are unwilling to go and stay in Russia’s Asian part. Russia can issue fixed-term visas to Chinese people for them to make contributions to the development in the area, get rich and then return home. In addition, it may absorb those who married Russian girls by stipulating that those who want to marry Russian citizens should first be nationalised.
That will benefit both Russia and China. China lacks girls as Chinese people prefer having sons while Russia has a surplus of girls.
When the Asian part of Russia has become prosperous, many Russian people will move there to look for better opportunities and Russia will no longer have such an urgent need for Chinese immigrants.
If China and Russia help North and South Korea unify into a prosperous nation, if the ASEAN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the unified Korea and other countries form an economic union, Japan will be forced to join. That will be an economic union larger than the EU.
- Renewed Chinese-Russian friendship is a cause for international concern (chinadailymail.com)
- ‘Post-Communist’ Russia and China remain remarkably the same. (chinadailymail.com)
- China’s Xi Jinping urges for stronger investment, high-tech ties with Russia (russiatoday.com)
- china’s xi jinping urges for stronger investment, high-tech ties with russia (poorrichards-blog.blogspot.com)
- The Xi-Putin Summit, China-Russian Strategic Partnership, And The Failure Of Obama’s ‘Asian Pivot’ (forbes.com)
- China’s new leader to meet Russia’s Putin on first foreign trip (thehimalayantimes.com)
- With US-Russia relationship toxic, Moscow looks to strengthen ties with China (csmonitor.com)
- Xi hails China-Russia relations as guarantee of peace (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Why China’s Xi Chose Russia and Africa for First State Visit (theepochtimes.com)
- Xi Jinping – results of visit to Russia exceeded expectations (voicerussia.com)